As an Army National Guard spouse, I’ve heard a lot of comments over the last 11 years. Honestly, until 9-11, we were out of sight, out of mind. Unless you knew someone on active duty, the military wasn’t a very tangible reality. That all changed in one day. EVERYONE was called to do their part, and we have kept that OPTEMPO for the last 10 years.
I saw as our nation moved into a deep sense of patriotism. When people found out my husband is a soldier, we were thanked for his service. It’s nice to have people at least acknowledge that thanks is a nice thing to do even if they don’t really understand.
Over the years, support has waned. Soldiers and spouses have made no bones about speaking up about a broken system. We’re told we should just be thankful for what we have. You know what? I AM thankful for what I have, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to leave the system better than i found it. Not only for my family, but those who follow us.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what military families get paid. A common belief is that we get “everything” for free. I have been told that being in the military is nothing but glorified welfare. Little do they know that (at least in our case) we do pay for uniforms, boots, the upkeep of the uniforms, the stuff that goes on the uniforms, medical care, glasses (only free for soldiers), dental (cost share for families), groceries (BAS is for the soldier, not the family), and housing. Yes, we get a housing allowance, or BAQ, but many landlords know what the going rate is for the area, and tend to make the rents at least that high. BAQ should cover rent AND utilities. This rarely works out that way.
Then there are those of us with special family members. We call them EFMs, or Exceptional Family Members. We have two in our family. Both boys qualify for both being autistic and asthmatic. Mostly the autism.
This life isn’t for everyone. I suppose that’s why not everyone does it. I’m thankful for the volunteers we do have so there isn’t a draft. While my own boys wouldn’t medically qualify, I can think of many others I’d not want to see go off to war in a draft. I’m glad there are men and women like my husband who get up every day and love what they do.
I’m glad there are people in the general public who still care. The ones who still give that knowing nod when we’re out and my husband is still in ACUs from work.
You know who else gets that military families need some support right now? Cheerios and the USO. Have you seen the Send Cheer ads on TV? In your newspaper? No? Check this out. Cheerios has a website dedicated to sending cheer to military families. Look for specially marked boxes of Cheerios at your local Walmart, and more information here. I’ll be writing another blog post about how my family is sending cheer to other military families. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be a part this awesome Cheerios sendCheer campaign.
*This post has been compensated as part of a sponsored charitable opportunity for Collective Bias. As always, all opinions are my own.